I tried to stick to French when visiting Montréal this week. I have some French, of the basic summer holiday camping variety, but it’s a far cry from what I define as ‘speaking’ it, which is the way I feel about English, German and Dutch. I tried to do it especially as we were in an otherwise English full immersion setting, to break the default as it were. Almost got away with it for basic interactions (coffee, cab driver, lunch), but there’s always an additional question that then throws me off the track.

Ordering coffee for both of us for instance worked fine right until the lady at the counter as a final question looped back to my espresso by asking me about whether I’d want my espresso court ou allongé, short or lengthened. While I was playing back the tape in my head to interpret what she’d said, she concluded I had reached the limits of my French and switched to English. At such moments it isn’t so much the language that throws me, but a question that I didn’t expect as part of the exchange we’re in. Asking about short or longer espresso is a cultural difference to interpret more than a language difference. I don’t get asked that question back home where espresso is always short. I didn’t know it was part of the common pattern here, so I didn’t anticipate hearing it, and thus it was an unexpected turn in the conversation for me, making me stumble “ehhh short” and indicating it with my fingers.

Our last cab driver, while I was paying him remarked on me doing the exchange in French. He asked me where I was from, and told me his daughter lived in Amsterdam. He was curious how I learned French, so I told him it is standard in secondary school. “So you speak French, English and Dutch?”. And German I said. “And German? Four languages, you guys are so fortunate.” He’s right. We are fortunate, even if it is just a little bit of French. Merci Montréal, one of your cab drivers ensured I left with a smile.


Court ou allongé? At Tommy‘s in Montréal.

One of the things I always do after an event is go through the people I met and see if I can connect to them, e.g. on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. This time around, part of that is adding people to my RSS reader, because they blog. This is an additional pleasure, not just because it extends my network of bloggers that I read, but also because doing so was a key part of my conversations at Crafting {:} a Life in the past days. So I am subscribing to people with which I already have had extended time talking. This immediately puts them at a shorter social distance than normally when exploring new blogs (and they requested me to describe better the importance to me of that, and what/why/how I do that).

Rosie le Faive as a direct consequence of the conversations at Peter’s unconference started a blog press pound. Her first posting is a very good start (definitely not the ‘hello world, is this thing on?’ variety) and I hope to read much more (here’s a bunch of reminders to self that I keep handy when falsely thinking I need to write ‘properly’ before I can press pound to publish). It’s a WordPress blog and it launched with IndieWeb support for Webmention, which is very good. There’s a whole bunch of IndieWeb peeps hanging out on IRC/Slack, Rosie.

Clark McCleod’s Kelake blog in contrast has been around since 2001/2. This too is a WP blog, so I hope to see Clark add Webmention and other IndieWeb features.

Steven Garrity’s blog Acts of Volition goes back to 2000. I’ve been aware of him for a long time, ever since he figured in Peter’s surprise at how well known PEI turned out to be when he first visited Reboot in Copenhagen. Now I’ve met him in person and added him to my reader.

Replied to WebmentionQSL by ruk.ca (ruk.ca)
While we were waiting for the bus home today, Olle explained to me and Oliver how QSL cards work: two ham radio operators establish a radio connection, the more distant and unlikely the better; during the connection they exchange call signs, which are globally-unique and can be used to look up a pos...

The reason I came up with letterpress made QSL cards, Peter, was of course that you have one. Also Aaron Parecki is interested. Not only is he deeply involved in Webmention as a standard, he also has a ham radio license (W7APK) like me (PE1NOR). So we have at least an audience of 4 😀

Bonus pic: the QSL cards I sent when I didn’t have my license yet (I got it in ’89) and sent out listening reports to both sides of successful connections (QSO). These were often highly appreciated by the stations involved as sometimes the only proof they had that a conversation with some exotic station had taken place was that someone overheard it and sent a report. [Added: the QSL card below mentions DP0SL, which, while a German callsign was definitely an ‘exotic’ station. DP0SL was the call sign of the D1 German Space Lab mission, hence ‘SL’.)

These QSL cards were bundled nationally and then sent as packages to the ham radio club of the destination country, where they would be disseminated through the various regional ham radio clubs. I should have a stack somewhere of QSL cards I received from all over the world.

And here’s an example of the logs I kept as a teenager, exactly 34 years ago:

And then the unconference Crafting {:} a Life had ended, and you have to come back to the regular flow of things. Dealing with the aftermath so to speak. Sunday, still on PEI, we spent mostly hanging out on the deck in Peter and Catherine’s back yard. Then we joined some lobsters on the flight to Montréal.

Monday we had a day to explore Montréal, before our early evening flight to Amsterdam. Now fighting jet lag on the couch, and trying to figure out how to take time this week to reflect and write more on the event.

Impressions of Montréal

Sunset over Labrador

It is good to see that the event is already causing ripples that move forwards in time. Rosie started a blog with support for IndieWeb standards, and Clark thinks he may permanently reshape his approach to workshops and presentations. I’ve also got a conference call planned with Mark on organising an unconference around the creative hub / makerspace project he is shaping.

And that is the real way participants can thank Peter for organising Crafting {:} a Life, and how ‘our’ participants, such as Peter did these past days, have thanked and are thanking us for our events: by taking something out of it and run with it. Bring it forward. Not an aftermath therefore, but unconference forwarding.